For a few hours every other afternoon, Latin and Greek roots rain on Phil Rosenthal’s etymology class at Park View High School in Sterling. Etymology — the study of the origin and evolution of words — might be considered the domain of tweedy types who reek of pipe smoke. But Rosenthal tries to give his 20-some students a sense of the stories and shades behind the words they use every day.
“Kids see a word that to them is foreign, and they run away from it,” Rosenthal says. He started the class with a group of other Loudoun County teachers in 1990, and it remains one of the few of its kind in the country.